A couple of weeks ago I was listing to Leo Laporte’s This Week in Tech, and there was a lively discussion about the direction of print media. The question on the table was will print media die?
This is a very interesting question because for years now online, new media writers have been claiming that the newspaper and magazine are dead. Every few months you will find a lot of bloggers making this claim and announcing that print media folks should get with the program. However, I feel that the death of print media is a long way off, if it will ever happen at all.
One thing that people seem to forget is that a lot of people don’t like reading things on a screen. They like the tactile feeling of something in their hand. That black print on white(ish) paper means something to them. Think about this. Comic books are available for free in digital files (if you’re willing to look for them and are okay with the lack legal associated with them) but many comic book geeks need to have that book in their hand. Newspapers and magazines are the same way. I really enjoy sitting in bed reading my magazines before bed. Always have, and it really helps me sleep.
Another reason that print media will just never completely go away is because if there is some form of electricity outage, newspapers can still deliver the news. Printing presses today require electricity but several news papers still have old crank presses somewhere, mostly for archival, historical purposes but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t break them out and start printing if they needed to.
People read newspapers at restaurants, they read them on the bus on the way to work, and they read them in the morning as they drink their coffee. It’s just something people do and have done for a darn good while. Some people do it because that’s what their parents did and so that tradition will carry down. The need for tactile print still means something in this world and some people just won’t believe something until they see it printed in that black print. That’s just the way it is.